While the ecological movement has questioned the endless expansion of production, consumption and the consequent acceleration of resource and energy use, the left has often emphasised the domination of nature not just to meet everyone’s needs but to offer a universally high standard of living.
Henry George and Karl Marx developed alternative radical theories out of the ideas of Adam Smith and David Ricardo.
But the doubts about the viability of capitalism as a system now extend far beyond its traditional critics. The U.S. economy has been in bad shape since about 2007 and the signs of recovery have not improved much since then. To give one example, Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute notes that the total economic growth in the United States is approximately equal to the annual government deficit. In other words, if the U.S. Treasury were not issuing bond debt, printing fiat currency in cooperation with the private Federal Reserve, which is in de facto control of the U.S. economy through creating new money and setting the prime interest rate, there would actually be negative U.S. economic growth and a severe recession: